The Chronicle of Higher Education (located through the Tax Profs Blog), is continuing a several installment debate over the risks and rewards associated with blogging for an untenured academic or academic job seeker. The lastest round is positive, although an earlier report noted how some professorial job seekers undermined their applications or tenure prospects with their indiscrete blogs. The risk is, of course, highest for bloggers like myself who publish under their own names. Like most non-anonymous bloggers, a google search of me will reveal an ample paper trail.
As someone who is in a non-tenured academic job, I've considered the issue. Of course, there is nothing "embarassing" in this blog (or anywhere else in the blogosphere for that matter). It is not a confessional. It does, of course, make perfectly public my religious beliefs and my political beliefs. Job candidates are entitled to keep these matters private if they wish. But, the reality is that I have never exercised that privilege in any professional capacity that I have ever held, and wouldn't do so in the future. As a result, keeping these matters private in the job seeking process would simply open me up to being hired into a job where those beliefs would then hurt my prospects of advancement (or tenure) later on.
The plus of a blog is that it lets large number of people get a take on how you think and the breadth of the things that you think about. It is also a germinating ground for ideas that can evolve into academic journal articles. In the Creative Class era, people like myself see intrinsic value in getting good ideas out.
At any rate, the anti-blogging hype floating around there is not going to stop this blog. A blog is a foothold in the "great debate" about where our country is going and I want to be a part of that debate. Moreover, in what other forum can you take the time to express yourself in documented paragraphs? Well, there are academic journals, but they have a pretty small potential readership. So, long live the blog!